Fall River — The National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) announced that on December 10-11, the Diocese of Fall River will hold the annual Retirement Fund for Religious collection in parishes throughout the diocese.
Last year, the parishioners in the diocese donated $93,326.67 to the collection. About the upcoming collection, NRRO Executive Director Sister Stephanie Still, a member of the Sisters of the Presentation of San Francisco, said, “The care of our aging religious presents an enormous financial responsibility. It is our privilege to care for those who gave a lifetime of tireless service, and I feel we are deeply blessed by all the U.S. Catholic donors who have steadfastly contributed to this fund.”
Historically, Catholic Sisters, Brothers, and religious order priests—known collectively as women and men religious — served for little to no pay. With rising health-care expenses, hundreds of U.S. religious communities face a large gap between the needs of their older members and the funds available to support their care. As a result, many now lack adequate retirement savings.
The 2021 appeal raised nearly $28.5 million, and the NRRO distributed funding to 271 U.S. religious communities. Donations also underwrite resources that help religious communities improve elder care and plan for long-term retirement needs.
In 1988, Catholic bishops of the United States launched the Retirement Fund for Religious to address the significant lack of retirement funding for Catholic Sisters, Brothers, and priests in religious orders.
• For most of their lives, elder religious worked for little to no pay. There were no 401(k) plans or pensions.
• Religious communities are financially responsible for the support and care of all members. Income, earnings, and expenses are managed separately from the parish and diocesan structures of the Catholic Church.
• Only seven percent of the religious communities providing data to the National Religious Retirement Office are adequately funded for retirement; 43 percent have 25 or fewer members. Many small communities struggle to care for elder members due to a lack of financial resources and personnel.
• Today, religious past age 70 outnumber religious under age 70 by nearly three to one.
• There are 24,924 religious past age 70 living in the United States. In 2021, the average annual cost for their care was roughly $50,000 per person; skilled care averaged $78,000 per person.
• Since 2009, the annual cost to support senior women and men religious has exceeded $1 billion.
• In 2021, 70 percent of the religious communities providing data to the National Religious Retirement Office had a median age of 70 or higher.
• The average annual Social Security benefit for a religious is $7,326, whereas the average US beneficiary receives $19,896.
• Each year, hundreds of U.S. religious communities receive financial assistance made possible by the Retirement Fund for Religious. Communities can use this funding for immediate retirement expenses or invest it for future needs. Since the first collection, U.S. Catholics have donated nearly $948 million.
• Since the collection began, almost $817 million has been distributed to support the day-to-day care of elderly Sisters, Brothers, and religious order priests. An additional $102 million has been allocated for programs to assist religious institutes with comprehensive retirement planning.
• In addition to direct financial assistance, proceeds from the annual collection underwrite educational programming, services, and resources that enable religious communities to evaluate and prepare for long-term retirement needs.
• Support from the Retirement Fund for Religious helps religious communities care for senior members while continuing important ministries to the people of God.
The National Religious Retirement Office coordinates the annual national appeal for the Retirement Fund for Religious and distributes financial assistance for retirement needs to eligible religious institutes. To help address the deficit in retirement funding among U.S. religious orders, Catholic bishops of the United States initiated the Retirement Fund for Religious Collection in 1988.
For more information, visit retiredreligious.org, or contact Robin Cabral, Campaign Director, by phone at (508) 685-8899 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.